Look at all the babies

(Topic: Grief vs. other people’s pregnancies/babies)

Dear Friends,

Lately, I feel like every single person I know is having a baby – including about half my grief group members, local friends, Facebook friends, and even our favorite waitress at the diner we go to every week. This, itself, has been hard for me, but then – Princess Kate had her new little one too. Babies everywhere, and none for me.

I’m on a number of pregnancy and infant loss Facebook groups, and many of them pass around information, news articles, and blog posts that are relevant to current events. Mostly, it ends up being about people who have a loss or who advocate for those who do, but occasionally there are posts that end up specifically addressed to members of the loss community. When Princess Kate stood beautifully for the cameras holding a lace-wrapped princely bundle, a post came out addressed to moms – like me – for whom that image is painful. I’d like to share the link here, for those of you who are interested: https://www.mamamia.com.au/sad-about-royal-baby-news/

[I’m not including an image of the royal family here. It would be too hard for me to see]

The thing is, I’m not sad for the Princess – I’m happy for her. I’m happy her baby is healthy, and, more simply, alive. I’m happy that she has a new little one to cuddle and love and care for. But I’m so insanely jealous it hurts, and seeing her picture (and those of my friends on Facebook) makes the emptiness in my arms that much more tangible. I’m happy for my friends, I’m happy for the grief group members who are growing their own rainbow babies*, and I’m happy for my waitress, too. But I’m sad for myself, for my empty arms, and for my broken heart.

But the thing is, I also feel sorry for the Princess: I wish she had private time to recover, and to snuggle and enjoy. I wish that birth and death were more respected by the media, and given more private space. Plus, I can’t help thinking about the terrible outcomes that didn’t happen: What plans did the royal advisors have in place if something went wrong? Would the media have been told to back off? I hope so.These are the thoughts that occur to me, and I know that, because of similar thoughts, some who have further children after a loss decide to hold off on a baby shower or similar preparation, because we don’t know that it will turn out ok. Others decide to make the most of the time they have, and do ALL the celebration – because they want good memories, even if things turn out badly. I don’t know where I fall, yet, because I’m not going through it, yet. It seems to be very personal, which way people lean.

Another reason that it hurts so much to see the Princess, smiling, with her third little one in her arms; and the reason I sometimes unfollow friends on Facebook with small children; and the reason I cried at the diner; is that I’m hoping so hard, wishing so hard, to have another little one of my own. We want to give Charlie a little brother or sister, and we also want the experiences of being a diaper-changing mama and papa, because that is what we were hoping for with Charlie. With Charlie, we got turned into a memory-keeping mama and papa – which is a very important job – but that was not what we had been picturing. We’d like to reapply for the diaper job, please!

I’d like to try to describe what it feels like, sometimes, when I see a picture. I’m not sure I can completely capture it… When I see good news of someone’s baby, a birth announcement, a carseat picture on the way home from the hospital, or just a cute wee one in mama’s arms, the first thing I feel is a knot in my stomach. Over time I’ve learned that it is a knot of sad, which often only unravels with tears. I see the picture, and I see what I don’t have, but twice: what I never got with Charlie, and what I don’t yet have with a next child. The next thing I feel is hate, for the mother (not hating the mother herself, mind you). As that passes, I realize that it isn’t hate, just really strong jealousy. And then I usually look away, scroll more, or change my activity, because it is too painful, sometimes, to be faced with what I don’t have. Sometimes I cry.

There are many people dealing with loss, or infertility, or other related issues, who may not be able to view the joy of someone else’s baby with the expected happiness. I only know it from my own perspective, that of a prior loss but with the possibility of a future child or children. I cling to hope. But sometimes it still hurts.

Yours,

Sarah

* Some terms to know that are commonly used in the pregnancy/infant loss community:

  • Sunshine baby (a child before the loss)
  • Angel baby (the loss – I have also seen “star baby” though I don’t see it often)
  • Rainbow baby (after the loss, which is the “rain”, comes the rainbow – and you can’t have a rainbow without first having rain)

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